Information Manipulation and Reform in Authoritarian Regimes
Forthcoming in Political Science Research and Methods
31 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2014 Last revised: 18 May 2015
Date Written: May 17, 2015
We develop a theory of how an authoritarian regime interactively uses information manipulation, such as propaganda or censorship, and policy improvement to maintain social stability. The government can depict the status quo policy more popularly supported than it actually is, while at the same time please citizens directly by enacting a costly reform. We show that the government's ability of making policy concessions reduces its incentive to manipulate information and improves its credibility. Anticipating a higher chance of policy concessions and less information manipulation, citizens are more likely to believe the government-provided information and support the regime. Our model provides an explanation for the puzzling fact that reform coexists with selective information disclosure in authoritarian countries like China.
Keywords: propaganda, censorship, information disclosure, reform, authoritarian governance, institutional design, game theory
JEL Classification: D7,D8
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation